Articles From the August 1994 Unification News
More and more people day by day realize that the world is in need of drastic reformation. The Reverend Moon is no longer a voice in the wilderness, or, if he is, there is a growing population out there in the wilderness with him. For instance:
The monthly periodical Critical Intelligence comments on the national politics and economics. Its editors, led by Daniel Burstein, recognize that our social-cultural foundation has collapsed. The following passage, a typical one, refers to "the precarious edifice of an America that is dangerously fractured and dysfunctional. Everywhere around us we see a society that seems to be falling apart. Deep structural flaws in our economy have turned the promise of steadily rising living standards into little more than a faded memory held by those over 40. " Can we find the political will required to truly confront our complex and deeply entrenched social problems-from the paralysis of our institutions to the structural inertia of our economic life? " We've become very skilled at technological innovation. We can accelerate that very, very well. But how many people are thinking about what a new political system would look like for the 21st century? Very few." (pp. 2-4)
The editors of Critical Intelligence call for a reconstruction of our political system, calling the two-party system an outmoded relic of the industrial age. They call for a new constitution. Further, they recognize that the West must look to the East, with its economically productive, orderly societies. This writer only wishes that they would also recognize the fact that cultural life is the product of the religious life of a people, embodied in its religious institutions and fundamentally embodied in the family.
Further, CI must recognize that the East offers no real salvation to the West. The problems of the West are emerging in the East. Numbers of divorces are skyrocketing in the economic giants of the Pacific Rim. The relatively well-ordered and prosperous societies of the Far East are a temporary phenomenon. The problems are deeply-rooted in the human condition east and west, north and south, and the solution must be equally universal and radical.
I recommend to the reader's consideration a periodical entitled Touchstone-A Journal of Ecumenical Orthodoxy. Like another magazine of which my readers must be familiar, First Things, Touchstone is intellectually well-grounded, morally informed and religiously inspired. It represents, in my mind, a promising sign of life in the Christian world. What follows are some excerpts from the Spring, 1994, issue, with my comments.
God Out of the Girl Scouts
Girl Scout leaders voted 1,560 to 375 to allow scouts to substitute another word for God when pledging the Girl Scout promise. The vote came at the 46th National Girl Scouts Convention in Minneapolis and is said to have been responsive to growing ethnic and religious diversity within that organization. One wonders how many ethnic or religious parents or girls object to the name of God, as opposed to a phalanx of secularists forcing the organization to march to a politically-correct drum-beat.
Muslims In Germany According to a recent report, Islam, with more than two million members, is now the third largest religious community in Germany, after the main Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.
Mother Teresa Touches Raw Nerves Left and Right
Nobel laureate Mother Teresa has risen to the defense of the unborn. Last February, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, attended by both President Clinton and Vice President Gore, she starkly proclaimed, "the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. " How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. " By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. " Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want."
Although the predominantly evangelical Protestant audience applauded loudly for her anti-abortion comments, she received only stone-faced silence from the White House. The entire audience, however, grew silent when the respected Mother spoke out against contraception as well. She said that it is "destroying the power of giving life," and "abortion follows very easily."
Mainstream Protestants and the Media
If I remember right, it was the mainline Protestants, along with the government, who were behind the "worship at the church of your choice" media campaign of the 50s and 60s. However, at the recent National Conference on Christianity and Communication, Penn State communications expert Cathy Sargent counseled against such a generous message. She offered network television advertising and televangelism as a necessary solution to the declining membership in mainline Protestant churches. Independent evangelicals have used the medium successfully, said Sargent, and the mainline churches' failure to do likewise ignores the extent to which Americans have cultivated a dependence on broadcast media.
Church Repression in China
Recently, Chinese authorities have increased efforts to crack down on unofficial religious activities. On February 6, Prime Minister Li Peng signed new legislation that forbids any religious activity that threatens "national unity or social stability." The law specifically bans house churches and prohibits foreigners from making disciples, distributing religious literature, or establishing religious schools or organizations.
Although media reports have raised international concern over the apparent step backward in religious freedoms in China, a spokesman for the Chinese Christian Council (CCC) minimized the significance of the new law. He told Amity News Service in Hong Kong that the CCC "could see no departure from the practices which have existed for years."
Reports of religious repression, however, continue to abound. Five days after the laws were passed, authorities arrested 14 Christians, including 3 Americans, in Henan Province for conducting "illegal religious activities." According to Asia Watch, an independent human rights organization based in New York, as of February over 1,200 people are imprisoned in China because of non-violent religious and political beliefs and activities. The report provides details of 250 new cases of imprisonment, of which about 80 percent are in Tibet, where the Chinese government is waging a campaign against the pro- independence movement led by Buddhist monks and nuns.
On Sex-Inclusive Language
This issue of Touchstone focused on the issue of sex-inclusive language. It featured an interesting argument against the imposed usage of sex-inclusive language, set forth by Paul V. Mankowski, S.J.. The argument begins with the assertion that "there is no such thing as exclusive language." The human mind naturally works in an inclusive way, recognizing the meaning of a word within its context.
"If a set A," he continues, "is so treated that subset B is distinguished within it, the label or name given to A will have two meanings (or two uses): first, the general or universal meaning, and second, that of all non-B members of A. Linguists refer to the use of B as `marked' and that of A as `un-marked.'" Mankowski gives as one example the word "pig," which is unmarked for size, and "piglet", which is marked for size. In relation to goats, we use the word "pigs" to describe that pigs of all sizes. In relation to piglets, we use the word "pigs" to describe the adults.
Another example is from the military: "man" is the unmarked designation with reference to members, and "officers" is marked for rank. If military chaplains used the sex-inclusive argument, Mankowski reasons, the creedal statement that "for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven" would have to be amended, "for us men and officers." Combining this with gender considerations would result in the phrase, "for us men, women, female officers and male officers."
Further, to utilize "men and women" is not enough, by this reasoning, for it excludes other marked terms, such as children and hermaphrodites. Thus, the creed would have to read "for us men, women, children and those of indeterminate gender." But this still excludes babies-yet-to-be-born, who certainly belong to humankind for whom Christ died. One can see the absurd lengths to which the argument for sex-inclusive language can be taken.
Mankowski then points out that practical usage, not artificially imposed sanction, is the true source of changes in language. Practical usage respects the marked, un-marked distinction. For instance, we do not find intelligent women diving into a pool with confidence that the sign which says "Danger: man-eating shark" does not apply to them. They know automatically that "man" in this context is an inclusive term refering to all human beings.
On the other hand, in the context of public restrooms, all know automatically that women will never enter a door marked "men".
Mankowski further observes that "even in places where political gender-awareness has reached its highest pitch, even in the U.S. divinity schools, a dyed-in-the-wool feminist will run into a room full of women, or women and men, and say, "D'you guys want to order out for a pizza?"
In other words, "guys" has, by practical usage, become an unmarked term referring both to men and women. No one would insist that the pizza request refer to "guys and gals," although this phrase was common thirty years ago.
I think Mankowski is on to something here. While "man" has been drummed out of the unmarked category, "guy" has slipped in the backdoor, moving from being a marked to an un-marked term. "Guys" even refers to children, and why not to hermaphrodites? So we have the solution to the creedal problem: "for us guys and for our salvation, he came down from heaven."
Okay, enough constructive theology.
But what do we say of those of us who would respond, "Whatever you say, I know I feel differently now when I hear the word `man' used generically than I did fifteen years ago, and I think most people of similar background share the same feeling." This, to Mankowski, does not reflect a change in language but rather the operation of a supra- linguistic phenomenon called a "taboo." He offers an example of this given by Peter Berger. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, in the mid- 1930s, declared in a speech that the generic use of lei (third-person feminine singular) is effeminate, and all Italians should use voi instead. From that point on, those words were politicized. There was an artificially imposed, government taboo on the word lei. Use of lei was an anti-fascist statement; use of voi was pro-fascist.
Similarly, argues Mankowski, the use of "man" as a generic term is politicized; one makes an anti-feminist statement when he uses "man" in reference to all people. On the opposite side, use of "sex- inclusive" language is pro-feminist. One is tipping one's hat toward feminists by its adoption. In academic and liberal religious circles, one is identifying oneself as enlightened, liberal, open-minded, etc., by use of "his or her" instead of simply "his," or "men and women," instead of simply "men."
Mankowski doubts the honesty of such righteous self-identification. "I doubt very much," he writes, "that the champions of inclusive language exist on a higher plane of appreciation and respect for women than the rest of us." In fact, he cites them for tending to treat women as means to political ends: "When I see self-proclaimed advocates of `gender-inclusivity' deal with those women who vocally resist feminist-inspired changes to liturgical or other language, I do not find in their demeanor the patience, attentiveness, humor, respect, or even elementary human sympathy for the struggles of others that would count as evidence for this Higher Justice they claim to have found."
While realizing that there may be many responses to Mankowski's position which should be considered before final evaluation of his thesis, I do believe that he has made some challenging points. Sex- inclusive language arose out of a liberal, intellectual and, in many ways individualistic western sub-culture. The presuppositions underlying its advocacy are, to my knowledge, consistent with that egalitarian world-view, which counts the equality of all individuals as the foundation for all values and norms.
It is doubtful that these presuppositions are entirely consistent with Unification Thought. It is not that Unification Thought denies the value of the individual; far from it. But the fact is that Unification Thought understands the individual to exist and have that value only within a universe of "levels", from that of the family to the tribe, society, nation and so on up to God. The stress (in more ways than one) placed upon the isolated individual in modern society, which underlies the rationale for sex-inclusive language, represents only a fragment of reality for the Unificationist worldview. The implications of this for language have yet to manifest.
This and other stimulating reading is to be found in Touchstone. For a subscription, contact The Fellowship of St. James, 3300 W. Cullom Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618-1218. The Fellowship of St. James presents itself as "a not-for-profit association of Christians belonging to various churches dedicated to a renewed appreciation of the faith and ministry of Jesus Christ today."
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